Although I do not know when residents of Angelus Oaks and Barton Flats will be allowed to return to their homes and camps, I do know that the mountain will look very different to us when we do return. The photo below was taken in the area of Jenks Lake Road West. Although I have been unable to place the location of the buildings in this photo, I do know they are not located in our camp. I can only imagine a similar fight between crew and fire was going on in the forest behind our upper loop cabins (Staff House, Craig’s Cabin, Cabin 6, Maintenance).
HWY 38 NORTH OF ANGELUS OAKS, CA – SEPTEMBER 17: Fire equipment rushes up Highway 38 as the El Dorado Fire burns in heavy timber near Jenks Lake Road W north of Angelus Oaks Thursday night Sept. 17, 2020. (Photo by Will Lester/MediaNews Group/Inland Valley Daily Bulletin via Getty Images)
As the fire crews gain the upper hand on the El Dorado fire, with mostly hot spots to contend with now, my mind turns from being nervous about loss to being grateful that all camp staff, dogs, and buildings are safe today. I can’t help but feel overwhelmed by the heroic efforts of the hotshots and crew members who battled the flames, one losing his life in the fire fight. Click here to read an article from yesterday’s Desert Sun regarding the sheriff’s investigation of Charles Morton’s death.
To give you an idea of just how quickly the fire spread last week from the Santa Ana River area near Mountain Home Village on up into the brush along Hwy 38, please watch the amazing efforts of the fire crew trying to contain the flames once the fire hopped the highway. The camera is mounted on the helmet of a fire fighter and captures his view as he is racing around to fight the fire. The fire hopped the highway below the hairpin turn at Forest Falls, and as we know now, burned its way up to Angelus Oaks and out to Camp.Click here to watch this incredible video.
Soon we will need to address the human element in this fire equation. Our loyal staff members have been displaced from their homes for several weeks, and the wear and worry on them is tremendous. Camp doggies are suffering too. Daisy has lots of attention but is having trouble sleeping, wandering the halls of her temporary home each night looking for her toys and her people. I worry for them all, as these are the folks we rely on to take care of our camp throughout the whole year. With or without campers, the employee team takes care of de Benneville Pines on your behalf. I could not do it by myself. Without them around me, I feel like a mama bear who has lost her cubs. I can only hope we will be together again soon.
From Redlands, I send you my best.
Your Beloved Camp
El Dorado Fire Maps in vicinity of Camp as of 9/23/20
Watch the video of Funeral Procession for Big Bear Hot Shot Charles Morton